Notes from Instructs

Tuesday was a camp day for the 59 Padres prospects invited to the 2015 Instructional League program in Peoria, Arizona. That means a day of drills, one-one-one instruction, and a special meeting with a trio of former Padres All-Stars and World Series participants.

In the field

The Padres signed a trio of high-profile shortstops from Venezuela in July. While Kelvin Alarcon and Kelvin Melean are both sidelined with injuries until next spring, slick-fielding Reinaldo Ilarraza was on display, running drills with Ruddy Giron. The 16-year-old showed a great first step and smooth glovework going up the middle and into the hole.

First baseman Trae Santos, who was well over 300 pounds by the end of last season, has impressed people throughout the organizations with the work he’s put in over the last 12 months. He’s now at about 255 pounds with a goal to drop another 20 once he heads home to Alabama after instructs. Santos, who turns 23 next month, has used his increased athleticism on both sides of the game, but it’s incredibly easy to see the difference when he’s working in the field.

At the plate

Bryant Aragon, the 17-year-old catcher form Mexico who spent the summer in the complex league, looks very comfortable with his left-handed swing. Though a shoulder issue kept him from working behind the plate during the season, he appears to be working without restriction now. While he hit just .224 as the youngest position player in the league this summer, he has plenty to work with as he grows into his frame.

Often, players look worn down and a little light at the end of their first full-season campaign. But both Michael Gettys and Nick Torres actually look a little stronger than they did in March. Gettys put several balls out just to the left of the big batter’s eye on Field 2 in a few rotations. While he will always have some swing-and-miss in him, the 2014 second-rounder has as many tools as anyone in the system.

After organized activities were done for the day, nearly a dozen players stayed around for several additional hours of voluntary work in the cages with Morgan Burkhart, Xavier Nady and Luis Ortiz. The group, including catchers A.J. Kennedy, Kyle Overstreet and Ricardo Rodriguez, infielders Carlos Belen, Kodie Tidwell and Tyler Moore, and outfielders Franchy Cordero and Alan Garcia all focused on drills designed to keep swing paths short to the ball and the hitters’ bodies balanced from start to finish.

Odds and ends

Former Padres greats Steve Finley and Greg Vaughn were in uniform, working with hitters in on-field drills, and then Vaughn spoke to the entire group. Fellow team legend Trevor Hoffman has been part of the on-field instruction staff for the last few years, and spent part of the morning harkening back to his original role in professional baseball, shadowing the shortstops in their drills.

Mike McCoy, the 34-year-old infielder who spent much of the year with El Paso, appears to be getting an audition in a coaching role. He worked with Eddie Rodriguez in leading infielder defensive drills.

General Manager A.J. Preller is in town and very hands-on on the back fields. He always looks much more comfortable in these settings than he does fielding media questions on television.


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